In selecting an ISP, my recommendation is to go with a local ISP since they offer much cheaper prices than some of the name brand pricy ones. When you calculate the monthly fee times 12 months can be an eye opener.
Don't be fooled by having to sign up with an ISP when you purchase a computer and get 6 months trial use that seems to sucker you into continuing at a high price or a deal that the computer is cheap because you sign up with a specified ISP and the monthly ISP fee is way too high ... $23.00+ per month. Had a friend that did this and only used the email feature!
I was as green as grass initially, when I got my computer 01/99, I signed up for one year at $16.58, unlimited use. About 3 months later I spoke to the ISP about getting a better rate, and took a two year plan, unlimited use, that reduced it to $11.95 per month, prepaid. They backdated the initial contract and extended it to two years.
I have a local dial up ISP, unlimited usage, and pay $9.95 per month ... I had to prepay for 3 years, which was not a problem. We use the computer all day and get more than our money's worth! I have been very satisfied with my local ISP.
Note: Hubby is retired phone company, so we have two lines; one free line, except for the taxes, that we answer and a second line is half rate that is used exclusively for my FAX and the computer. This cost does factor in.
Cable Internet, in my opinion, is too pricy! We are retired so instant on is not that important.